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RIP, iPhone 3GS, you redefined the meaning of superb software support

Posted: , by Ray S.

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RIP, iPhone 3GS, you redefined the meaning of superb software support
With yesterday's announcement of the iPhone 5, it became known that the iPhone 3GS will no longer be sold. During the past year, it was offered at the lovely price of free on contract, which made it arguably the best smartphone at that price-point. However, as it will no longer be found on store shelves, we wanted to take a few minutes to express our fascination with the superb support that this handset got (and continues to get) from Apple.

It wouldn't be an overstatement if we say that the iPhone 3GS was the best-supported smartphone in recent memory. It was launched in 2009, but is currently rocking the latest version of Apple's mobile OS - iOS 5. And guess what, it's going to receive an update to iOS 6 on September 19. That means that Apple is still supporting a 3-year old handset. In comparison, the Motorola DROID, which was released later in 2009, and was the signature Android smartphone for quite some time, never god updated past Android 2.2 Froyo - a platform released in 2010.

Of course, when Apple updates its older devices, it often leaves some of the main new features out, due to hardware (and other) reasons. But even then, it's way better to receive a watered-down update, rather than no update at all. That's because major updates carry so many subtle improvements and optimizations, that they can visibly improve the performance of important apps like the browser or e-mail. But perhaps even more importantly, software updates bring support for the latest applications. That's why the iPhone 3GS, a device from 2009, can flawlessly run the latest titles like ShadowGun, Dead Trigger, Infinity Blade II, EPOCH, N.O.V.A. 3 and so on. But it's not all about games. Many productivity and lifestyle apps also require the latest version of iOS in order to run. This is where the value of these software updates is. Sure, you don't get stuff like Siri or turn-by-turn navigation, but you get numerous system improvements and seamless support for all these lovely new applications that are constantly redefining what's possible on a cell phone. You simply do not get the feeling that you're left behind, and you really aren't.

It's just something we wanted to acknowledge, because we haven't seen anything like that with Android or Windows Phone. Support for devices running on these OS's often continues for up to a year, and is surrounded by delays, lack of information and silence on the manufacturer's part. Once again, it's a matter of doing it great, or doing it so-so. At the end of the day, why do you need the best hardware, if you can't have the latest software?




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posted on 13 Sep 2012, 08:15 33

1. dragonscourgex (Posts: 307; Member since: 16 Jan 2012)


I do not like Apple, but this one thing I would have to agree on. I would love to see Android maker give the same support to their devices that Apple does to their.

posted on 13 Sep 2012, 09:42 10

21. frydaexiii (Posts: 1157; Member since: 01 Dec 2011)


The thing is the hardware just can't support it. The fact that the 3GS can still support iOS (alas,very laggy) isn't a good thing, it just shows how little iOS has changed (yes changed, not improved) over the years.

For the Nexus 1 for example, if I'm not wrong there were some Alpha ICS and Jellybean ROMs released for it, but it was quite laggy and slow. Sure Google could take away a crapload of features just to support it, but whats the point?

posted on 13 Sep 2012, 10:02 6

25. dragonscourgex (Posts: 307; Member since: 16 Jan 2012)


I would have to agree with you point. I would like them to speed up the updating process thou. There should be no reason why my Droid Razr should not be running JB right now.

posted on 13 Sep 2012, 11:07 1

31. Volcomguy51 (Posts: 18; Member since: 23 Jan 2011)


I agree with you, just like iPhone, Google should have at least one or two dedicated devices. If Asus could make a sweet tablet like the Nexus 7, a dedicated phone would be great such as the Nexus models.

posted on 13 Sep 2012, 18:47 1

46. jroc74 (Posts: 3978; Member since: 30 Dec 2010)


But....if every other phone manufacture only released one phone...of course it could and should be supported very good.

I dont think its so much that Apple supported it very good....it was just easier to support. I have a Droid 1 right now....that wont even get an OTA notice for 2.2. I put 2.0.1 on there cuz it was stuck in a boot loop last year. And if I dont do it manually...it will be on 2.0.1 forever. In the mean time....Motorola has released about 10 Android phones on Verizon since then. How many have Apple released since the 3GS?

posted on 14 Sep 2012, 15:09

55. RomeoJDR (Posts: 237; Member since: 09 Dec 2011)


Then every other manufacturer should not overextend themselves by producing more phones/tablets than they can support. That is a lame excuse to abandon a customer on outdated software.

posted on 13 Sep 2012, 08:15 12

2. bloodline (Posts: 686; Member since: 01 Dec 2011)


I knew Ray.s wrote this. Such a fanboy

posted on 13 Sep 2012, 08:47 15

14. darkkjedii (Posts: 9280; Member since: 05 Feb 2011)


But it's true tho. Not slamming android it's jus true.

posted on 13 Sep 2012, 09:05 8

16. whysoserious (Posts: 313; Member since: 20 Jul 2012)


Have respect to a dying Smartphone, will you? Your fanboyment knows no bound.

posted on 13 Sep 2012, 09:39 9

19. Mxyzptlk (limited) (Posts: 2846; Member since: 21 Apr 2012)


Such denial. He is speaking the truth. Apple has better support for their devices than any Android OEM does. I find it on base that he mentioned a Motorola device in comparison since Motorola is notorious for not updating their phones.

He's not being a fanboy in this article. He is speaking the truth from an obvious observation.

posted on 13 Sep 2012, 14:03 2

42. XPERIA-KNIGHT (Posts: 2384; Member since: 08 Aug 2012)


its becuase they only have one phone to attend to........android has many!.........have we forgotten this??

posted on 13 Sep 2012, 18:50 1

47. jroc74 (Posts: 3978; Member since: 30 Dec 2010)


Exactly. After the 3GS...it was the 4 and 4S. Now the 5

In that same time frame.....Moto, Sammy and HTC have probably released 50 phones.

Then....they strip features out for older devices....where Google just with holds the entire update. Its apples to oranges...

posted on 13 Sep 2012, 14:44 3

43. Berzerk000 (Posts: 3656; Member since: 26 Jun 2011)


That's because Apple and Google have 2 different systems.

Apple;

Apple --> Consumer

Google;

Google --> Manufacturer --> Carrier --> Consumer

There are 2 extra steps there that slow down updates a lot, especially on Verizon... You shouldn't compare every Android device with the iPhone. The only way the systems are the same is with an unlocked Nexus;

Google --> Consumer

Instead of comparing every Android device, compare the unlocked Nexus to the iPhone, or else it isn't fair.

How many unlocked Galaxy Nexus are on Jelly Bean? How many iPhone 4S will be on iOS 6 when it releases? That should be the comparison, and they will be similar.

posted on 13 Sep 2012, 15:20 2

45. ogy_dogy (Posts: 453; Member since: 29 Jun 2012)


With all due respect to apple for their support of a old device which was excellent, but the 3gs was far too expensive (off contract) compared to similar devices. for example, here the 3gs off contract was about 350€ while the samsung galaxy ace was 200€ and i even think it had some better specs. so typical apple..

posted on 14 Sep 2012, 15:02

54. RomeoJDR (Posts: 237; Member since: 09 Dec 2011)


Yes he is, but this is actually a good reason why he is.

posted on 13 Sep 2012, 08:16 13

3. kshell1 (Posts: 1141; Member since: 05 Oct 2011)


I don't like apple either and i agree. The Iphone 3GS is one of the best well supported phones ive ever seen.

posted on 13 Sep 2012, 08:19 10

4. No_Nonsense (Posts: 826; Member since: 17 Aug 2012)


This is what I like about the 3GS, wish others would give the same support like Nokia gives to the N8 and first gen-Lumias and Apple's done with the 3GS.

posted on 13 Sep 2012, 08:22 19

5. Aeires (unregistered)


Ray, you probably won't see an update like this from Google. Google pushes entire OS updates to their Nexus phones, not watered down updates (your words). When a phone is deemed too old due to hardware requirements, it reaches end of life. The Nexus S is almost two years old and received 4.1, and could very well receive Key Lime Pie, but it's too early to predict that.

One of the things that keeps getting overlooked with articles and comments like this, there are official Google phones and there are carrier branded phones. Apple takes care of the iPhone well, and Google takes care of the Nexus phones well. When the carriers get involved, that's where the problems start and blame for poor updates needs to go.

posted on 13 Sep 2012, 08:29 6

8. bloodline (Posts: 686; Member since: 01 Dec 2011)


this is exactly right, RAY what is your response to this ?

posted on 13 Sep 2012, 08:35 1

9. JKING_25 (Posts: 52; Member since: 12 Sep 2012)


Well said! but I think Samsung and HTC are finaly starting to understand this. I am told that my SGS2 will recieve Jelly Bean (crossing fingers) hopefully we can see a new Galaxy Nexus soon.

Oh wait I have sprint so I will never get my offical Jelly Bean update :(

posted on 13 Sep 2012, 08:51 10

15. Ray.S (Posts: 239; Member since: 19 Jul 2011)


What you say is partly true, but it also doesn't matter that much, because there are sooo few people using the Nexus phones. And what about the Nexus One, launched in 2010? It didn't even get ICS (released in 2011). Otherwise, it's true that they are doing a good job with the Nexus S. Let's hope they'll keep that up.

But most people are using Droids and Galaxies, and that's where the trouble is. The fact is that most Android users are suffering from poor software support, and I honestly do not think that it's only the carriers' fault. Phone manufacturers are probably even guiltier.

posted on 13 Sep 2012, 09:21 8

17. Aeires (unregistered)


Nexus 1 was the first of the Nexus and didn't have as good hardware as the followup Nexus phones, primarily it was low on RAM. It didn't reach the two year mark, partly because it was launched in spring when new versions of Android are released usually later in the year. Still, it did receive two official Android updates, going from 2.1 to 2.2 and stopping on 2.3. If the hardware would have been there, there's no doubt it would have gotten ICS as well.

The "Droids" and Galaxies are getting better at updates. Expect even better from Motorola now that Google owns the company. Samsung seems to have finally gotten the message as well, they've shown marked improvement on getting updates released in a more timely manner.. When you look at the charts that are regularly posted showing the dispersal of Android versions, the overwhelming amount are on 2.3 or higher. While that could be much better, I don't think people are suffering like you make it out to be. Is it as good as Apple, no. Is it a critical issue for the average user, no. The main thing that's worth mentioning is that updates are getting better as time goes on, not worse.

I do agree with you in that manufacturers are at fault as well. Not everyone makes 1 phone a year though. If they did, you'd see the same type of updates as Apple. There's always going to be a trade-off, do you want to wait a year for a new phone, or do you want tons of options throughout the year?

posted on 13 Sep 2012, 09:45 4

22. Ray.S (Posts: 239; Member since: 19 Jul 2011)


Personally, I do not need tons of options, but not everyone needs a high-end device, that's why I think it's cool there are so many mid- and low-end Android smartphones. The problem I mentioned was that even high-end devices used to receive very few updates.

I didn't say that things are getting worse. Hopefully, things will be getting better in Android land. We can only benefit from strong competition!

posted on 13 Sep 2012, 10:07 1

27. kshell1 (Posts: 1141; Member since: 05 Oct 2011)


Actually it was mostly low on actual memory. it only had 512mb of ROM

posted on 13 Sep 2012, 10:16 1

28. Aeires (unregistered)


Thanks, I should have remembered that because it was the main reason I upgraded away from that phone. Cyanogen opening Apps to SD card did wonders for that phone.

posted on 13 Sep 2012, 11:22

33. gallitoking (Posts: 4630; Member since: 17 May 2011)


the DX2. got released last year around this time and .. Moto has already forgotten about it

posted on 13 Sep 2012, 11:50

36. Aeires (unregistered)


Released mid May last year, saw one update and official Verizon site says update coming soon. You might be right, it's another carrier based phone that is specific to Verizon so it might not see another update.

posted on 13 Sep 2012, 14:47 1

44. Berzerk000 (Posts: 3656; Member since: 26 Jun 2011)


Is it Moto that has forgotten, or is it Verizon that has given up on it? There's a difference.

posted on 13 Sep 2012, 18:59

48. jroc74 (Posts: 3978; Member since: 30 Dec 2010)


IMO....I dont think Moto wanted to release the DX2 and Droid 3. Neither got Droid commercials. Moto and Verizon didnt really care about it when they launched.

posted on 13 Sep 2012, 08:26 2

6. fanboy1974 (Posts: 997; Member since: 12 Nov 2011)


The reason iOS never received a total make over is because of the iPhone 3GS. And its the reason why I'm sticking with Android.

posted on 13 Sep 2012, 08:28 5

7. 1701nino (Posts: 216; Member since: 07 Dec 2010)


Well spoken,i curentlly own an iphone 3GS with the latest software and it works like a butter.The only thing missing is siri.Thank you apple for being a company that is really loyal to their customers.

posted on 13 Sep 2012, 08:36 3

10. raunak (Posts: 490; Member since: 12 Oct 2011)


yeah and that leaves apple with three exactly same looking phones on the market

posted on 13 Sep 2012, 11:24 1

34. gallitoking (Posts: 4630; Member since: 17 May 2011)


too dumb to tell the difference.. huh

posted on 13 Sep 2012, 11:47 3

35. Peter27 (Posts: 233; Member since: 13 Jul 2012)


Tell that to I fans who buying Samsung phones and tablets thinking that it is apple!!!

posted on 13 Sep 2012, 13:08 4

41. EclipseGSX (Posts: 1471; Member since: 18 Oct 2011)


Can YOU tell the difference between the 4 and 4S just by looking at it? Didn't think so...smh

posted on 13 Sep 2012, 08:37 2

11. shadowcell (Posts: 300; Member since: 28 Mar 2012)


I can appreciate a decent phone much like the 3GS but I think this article is misleading on the Moto Droid facts. Motorola was avidly continuing support up until November 2011. It may not have received Gingerbread OS or ICS but I think that's partly due to the hardware limitations.

posted on 13 Sep 2012, 19:01

49. jroc74 (Posts: 3978; Member since: 30 Dec 2010)


I agree. It not not have been a newer OS version....but it got maintenance updates. Thats support.

posted on 13 Sep 2012, 08:38 3

12. Vinayakn73 (Posts: 87; Member since: 05 Oct 2011)


see you in graveyard

posted on 13 Sep 2012, 08:46

13. fistigons (Posts: 260; Member since: 11 Feb 2012)


Hey you finally changed your comments. Congrats.

posted on 13 Sep 2012, 10:55 2

30. EclipseGSX (Posts: 1471; Member since: 18 Oct 2011)


How cute, you two should go on a date

posted on 13 Sep 2012, 23:29

51. Vinayakn73 (Posts: 87; Member since: 05 Oct 2011)


fistigons is like my a$$. and as it features it always stays on my back.

posted on 13 Sep 2012, 23:31 1

52. Vinayakn73 (Posts: 87; Member since: 05 Oct 2011)


does iPA or aPPLE have you pay to stays on their sites. what you want in returen the new iPHONEEEEEEEEEEEEEE. hahahaha

posted on 13 Sep 2012, 09:26 1

18. darac (Posts: 2156; Member since: 17 Oct 2011)


Samsung really shows signs of positive change - even the Galaxy S2 will receive android 4.1 before december. Even better, the lower range Ace 2 will jump from 2.3 to 4.1!
I think it's safe to assume that the S3 will be supported for at least another year and a half.

posted on 13 Sep 2012, 09:39 1

20. g2a5b0e (Posts: 1929; Member since: 08 Jun 2012)


I agree with this article, also, so I'm definitely not trying to troll here, but you've also got to keep in mind that Android has evolved a lot more since 2009 than iOS has. The difference from Eclair to Jellybean is so much more profound than the evolution from iOS 3 to iOS 6. When your operating system is evolving at a faster rate, it will obviously make phones obsolete more quickly.

posted on 13 Sep 2012, 09:45 4

23. bayusuputra (Posts: 941; Member since: 12 Feb 2012)


With Android, it's all or nothing affair.. There's simply no crippled version of ICS..

And yes, not many people use the Nexus phones, but Google has always been on time about releasing updates, it's manufacturers and carriers that are to blame..

Have you ever read comments from android fans saying that Google is late in releasing updates? Most, if not all the time, they are blaming this manufacturer or that manufacturer, or carrier A or carrier B for withholding the updates..

If you want to talk about Nexus One not even getting ICS, well, that's the first Nexus phone, compare that with the first iOS phone.. See where we'll be..

And most of the tablets are getting timely updates as they are less likely to sport OEM's custom layout/skins. But phones are different, they are more likely to be skinned and they are mostly bound to a carrier..

I have to agree that 3GS has tremendous support, that phone is the best innovation from apple IMO. But I think it's wrong to say that Google doesn't give the same support. They always give, in fact it is usually within days, and not crippled OS version.

It is OEMs and carriers that have to be blamed. Remember, they are just phone makers who chose to use Android because it is open source and free to use, so they are less likely to be bothered to give timely update as they are still money oriented, and prefer to release a brand new device than to support the old ones and losing future sales.

posted on 13 Sep 2012, 19:05

50. jroc74 (Posts: 3978; Member since: 30 Dec 2010)


Exactly to the first sentence. Google tried it with Froyo...some Android phones didnt get Flash.

After that? It was all or nothing. Both ways I agree with. I wouldnt mind a stripped down version just to get at some of the new features. Also....if my phone cant handle the full update....its time to get a new phone.

posted on 13 Sep 2012, 09:51 1

24. Lwazi_N (Posts: 205; Member since: 23 Jun 2011)


You know, it actually pisses me off that Android OEMs would lie about RAM or 1/2/4 core issues when devices need to be updated to the current software. Because ICS did not come for the HTC Desire I used to have, and the phone was not even 3 years old yet- the specs were still ok that it could get scaled versions of ICS... Well, like many Androids out there that could have gotten ICS but didn't even though they did have higher RAMs. That indeed sucks.

posted on 13 Sep 2012, 10:07 5

26. Ray.S (Posts: 239; Member since: 19 Jul 2011)


Hey guys, just wanted to clarify - I never said that Google isn't doing a good job of keeping Android up to date. However, even though Google is pushing numerous updates a year, for one reason or another (carriers, OEMs, custom UIs, etc.), those updates rarely reach end-users of existing devices. That was my point. Google is OK, but the rest of the ecosystem - not so much.

posted on 13 Sep 2012, 10:30 2

29. johnny9000 (Posts: 44; Member since: 10 Sep 2011)


I agree the support for this phone was excellent, but it's existence meant Apple had to limit what iOS could do in order to allow it to still work on the 3GS. And to say it is arguably the "best phone for free this past year" is a completely false statement. Sure, if Android phones that were multiple years old were still available to buy new they would be free too, but Android innovates and grows and moves on, so the phone you buy new is going to have been launched, at the latest, probably 6 months ago. And that is NOT a bad thing. There are many new people to Android / smartphones who really have no idea what is better than what, so the fact that they can only buy the latest phones when they buy Android means they are getting something relatively cutting edge even if they don't know it. But Apple's name recognition means people will buy anything they offer, just because "IT'S APPLE!" And if there is something free, they will buy that, no matter what it is, just because it's free. So Apple + Free = gimmie gimmie, even if it's a 2-3 year old device. With this in mind, I wonder which will sell better, the iphone 5 or the FREE!!!! iphone 4?

posted on 13 Sep 2012, 11:08 1

32. cncrim (Posts: 419; Member since: 15 Aug 2011)


Apple is the best when come down to ios upgrade.... all device support device get lastest update. This is biggestlet down on android, I hope google and manufacture can get tis loop hole fix.

posted on 13 Sep 2012, 12:25 1

37. Jyakotu (Posts: 813; Member since: 12 Dec 2008)


Though Apple releases more of the same with the iPhone, nobody can deny about their support for devices. Part of the reason is, obviously, because there's only a few variations of the iPhone: 2G, 3G, 3GS, 4, 4S, and 5. Android has multiple OEMs making phones for the OS, however, carriers and OEMs alike, often delay updates. It was one of the main reasons why I chose the Galaxy Nexus as my upgrade device because it got updated to Android 4.1 JB yesterday. But having a carrier branded Nexus device doesn't even save you from slow updates.

posted on 13 Sep 2012, 12:36

38. PatcheZ (Posts: 1; Member since: 13 Sep 2012)


how come no one is complaining about the lack of support from google regarding the android ports/emulators on the iphone?

i think the look or physical form of android and apple phones should be considered.
different manufactures give android phones variation where as the iphone only has 2 looks: 2G vs 4s[which i hate btw]

i don't think it's fair just to compare os' like this, especially when android is used by multiple manufactures.

posted on 13 Sep 2012, 12:39

39. downphoenix (Posts: 2232; Member since: 19 Jun 2010)


Been saying this about Android manufactures for a while. Why didnt the manufacturers offer more legacy support of popular android models like the Droid, Evo, etc. The Droid could have easily been supported to early 2012 and the Evo could still be kickin' it as a free on-contract handset. But the manufacturers instead would opt to release new skus all the time.

So instead of giving us say, a Galaxy S1 for Free, carriers and manufacturers would rather give us some crappy handset that uses newer tech but is actually inferior to it for free. And they rather not update for phones, they seem hellbent on EOLing phones as quickly as possible these days. Surely this has to hurt manufacturers more than it helps them?

posted on 13 Sep 2012, 12:41 1

40. rusticguy (Posts: 2811; Member since: 11 Aug 2012)


Yet another iPhone spam.

posted on 14 Sep 2012, 07:03 1

53. muhsen (Posts: 191; Member since: 07 Jun 2012)


lame article, 3gs DID not redefine smartphone support!,this is unfair,this credit is not due to apple, r they too blind to not see that all nokia smartphones since n95 get support for at least 3 years?! not to mention that the 5800 is 4 year old and still gets updates with new features,nokia even support their 50$ phones for couple of years!

posted on 15 Sep 2012, 13:30

56. OSFantasma (Posts: 119; Member since: 27 Sep 2011)


So here is what you should really know also i have no idea why ray didn't add this. When apple updates the 3gs so called support model they really do it to cripple it. They do this to iOS users like a push to move on to the latest model just entice them by telling them that the reason it runs slow is because its outdated Hardware. anyway Ray calls a update to ios 6 support I hope he know he will probably regret writing such a praising article about the iPhone 3gs. also from personal experience and please don't give me crap because i have 3 iPhone 3gs and notice that with each update the os made the phone slow to the point that if you weren't paying attention you would assume that the new iPhone is faster but really six gens later and they still keep bogging down there old hardware. i for one won't buy into apple.

yes each year they sweet talk the world. Then the next year they make a watered down version of the previous year model or even the previous 2 year model... look at iPhone 4 8gb really 8GB on flash memory they bottle neck the Moore's law and pocket the profits. I understand its a business but I for one need to see innovation not re-branded features borrowed from other os's just to be marketed as revolutionary. I saw the keynote and let me tell you that i was disgusted to how far apple gets away and even corporate heads buy into this but yeah i guess time will be on the users side they can't go on for ever.

posted on 17 Sep 2012, 06:20

57. pikapowerize (banned) (Posts: 1869; Member since: 03 May 2012)


can your android do that? (no hating) and im just pointing out!

so stop this stupid hating and act like professionals!

gosh this world wont have peace if people wont stop hating!

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